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Testing & Processing Potency testing, Legislation & policy, Cannabinoid analysis

"Full-Spectrum" CBD Products Could Spell Trouble in Drug Tests

small study found that half of people given full-spectrum hemp oil (with just 0.02% THC by weight) tested positive for THC metabolite THC-COOH in a urine test. The participants took an average of 3.5mL of oil per day, which equates to 0.8 mg of THC/day, for 4 weeks. It appears some drug screening tests may have a lower limit of detection than advertised, which could cause serious problems for those taking legal products. Positive urine tests for THC were also recorded in people smoking one CBD-rich cannabis flower (hemp flower) joint per day for 26 days.

Another recent study revealed that legal use of CBD products (especially when full-spectrum) could put athletes in hot water. The researchers tested or 16 cannabinoids in urine samples from CBD users and concluded that  “The presence of minor cannabinoids or their metabolites in an athlete's in‐competition urine sample represents a substantial risk of an anti‐doping rule violation.”

There is no suggestion in these studies that CBD is converted to THC (as has been previously claimed). But many legal hemp or CBD consumables contain low levels of THC that – while they are unlikely to cause any "high" – may be picked up by sensitive drug tests. These are not the first studies suggesting that legal hemp consumption could lead to positive tests for THC, and it's a problem that looks likely to grow as these products proliferate. 

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About the Author
Charlotte Barker

Associate Content Director

After studying biology at Imperial College London, I got my start in biomedical publishing as a commissioning editor for healthcare journals, and I’ve spent my career covering everything from early-stage research to clinical medicine. Attracted by the creativity, talent and passion of the team, I joined Texere Publishing in 2014, where I’m now Associate Content Director and Editor of The Cannabis Scientist.

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